The decision has been made – we'll be leaving Germany between June and July. Earlier than we thought by a couple of months. It's a bittersweet thing, knowing that the 'adventure' will close earlier than expected.
The first thing that came to mind, of course, is that I'll have access to a motorcycle, or three, in the land of cheap gas, and we're moving to a new state, with new roads to explore, and at the perfect time for riding. I'm excited.
Honestly, though, it wasn't really that hard to leave them behind in September – last summer we put on nearly 12,000 miles and rode states on both coasts. I developed calluses in strange, personal places and my hips and knees exploded like a backfiring Vespa on every dismount. It reminded me, in a strange way, of the stories my my mom used to tell about my uncle, then her baby brother – he used to find a way to sleep that put all his weight on one part of his skull, every night. Due to this abuse, that spot remained flat for the rest of his life. After thousands of miles on the Kawasaki and it's Diamondite, track day seat I have my own flat spot. I'd prefer not to make it permanent. People who've seen me say it's not possible for my scrawny behind to change shape... there's nothing but coccyx and femurs. Fine, I get it, I may not have had much, but what's left could only be called a plateau. After 12,000 miles, a dozen states, bad knees and a flat ass, the bikes were easy enough to give up. It was time to seek adventure elsewhere.
Where better than Europe? After all the travel in the United States we were set to taste something different, to see new things, live in a different culture. Why not Germany? (Chew on that tourism industry! To hell with your Mediterranean, give me beer, give me sausage! Give me Bavaria!) So, we boarded a plane, and a couple of Ambien later landed in Munich.
From that first morning I watched from the back seat of a hatchback as our new life passed by as fields and Hamlets. The potential of a new place, a new country. We stepped into our new life, a new culture... Europe! A million things to explore, as many things to do, and see, and try... too bad a motorcycle wouldn't fit in the carry on.
Through the door of our first apartment, we found the kind of paradise that entices single, 18-year-old men in the whole of the western world – the kind with one single bed (plus a roll away for guests) a stove, fridge, and oven that would fit inside your typical, American Kenmore, and as an added perk there was an actual door between the main room and the crapper. Adventure, we had arrived to greet you!
But first, we needed to sleep, which we did for about three days, not next to each other, of course. (Two beds,) but at least in the same room. After the brief hibernation, we got up for some exploration, all the way around the block, then went back to bed.
After a month people began to ask, Had we seen things? Sure, we had seen things, we spent all summer seeing things... the Pacific Ocean, Rockies, the Bighorns, Crater Lake, The Badlands, Lake Superior... we were full up with things, exhausted with them. But, if you meant in Germany, sure, we had seen some things. Recently, we had the apple trees heavy with fall, the Asian man who walked his cat (seriously. No, seriously, through the neighborhood and without a leash,) we saw downtown and we figured out how to pay for things without looking like complete idiots.
But hadn't we, you know, seen things? You mean, the Alps or Hitler's Bunker? Not... yet. First we had seen the price of renting near Munich, the price of airfare and train tickets, the cost of life plus travel. Could we have seen those other things? Sure, we could have made it happen, if we were ready, but we weren't because what we hadn't seen was home. Not in months. We hadn't had our own permanent address, or even our own cat (who had moved away to throw up in Kelsie's sister's house.) We had seen many things, but we hadn't been home – to base that place where nyah nyah nyah, you can't catch me. That place where you catch your breath before you run around again in life's game of tag. We, the couple who stays home on Friday nights hadn't been home, had yet been able to make one since we moved in June.
Then there was the onset of Bavarian winter, which slowly cools and congeals around you like gravy, wet, slow and thick with you locked inside. It's a good thing in a way – we're from the Midwest originally, so we're used to this lumbering sleep of winter. It's not quite right to say that we like it, but we understand it. It's a time for projects and indoor hobbies. It's a time to remember why summer is such a wonderful time, why you need to seize opportunities when they come your way. In a way, it's kind of like base.
So, as the fog of winter slowly thins, I'm left remembering all of the things that made a year in Europe so appealing, the desire live somewhere else, to see, and do, and travel. I remember that even though we haven't been the most active of expats, that as summer thaws – like everywhere, the desire to run and play buds with the trees. I'm feeling recharged.
So, it's bittersweet to know that we'll leave here early, ending the adventure prematurely, just as the second wind of a new year is coming on, but it's also exciting to think of moving back to the states, to a new place, somewhere with motorcycles and new territory to explore – and just as my ass has mostly popped back into my round(ish) shape. So yeah, bittersweet, because has it been perfect? No. But what's perfect? There is no perfect, that's just the way life is. Plans are usually better than the product and memories are better than the experience. So, as I sit here with the window cracked and birds herald the arrival of March, as the sun burns away the morning fog and puts a warm glow on the clay-tiled roof of Bavaria, I've got no regrets, just a mix things I'd like to do yet before we leave, the knowledge that I won't get to all of them, and the understanding that another, new adventure waits on the other side of the ocean. Bittersweet.